March 16, 2010

Virginia Cole Skelton

Virginia "Ginny" Cole Skelton was already a wife and young mother when she enrolled in Clemson in August of 1955 as a secondary education major. Her husband Tom was in graduate school at Clemson during the same time and she recalls that they "studied a lot".

Ginny is a historic alum for Clemson University - she was the very first female to finish all of her undergraduate work at Clemson and graduate (1958, only 3 years!). She is recognized on Clemson's campus with a historic marker near the south corner of Brackett Hall - erected in 2007.

Photo credit: Brian Scott, May 29, 2009

After graduating from Clemson, Ginny went on to teach freshman Chemistry at Clemson for a number of years and eventually went into business with Skelton Home and Auto stores. In the late 1960's, her and her husband enrolled at the University of Georgia where she received a Masters degree and her husband a PHD.

Ginny began teaching high school and later became the co-owner of the real estate Skelton Properties. Over the years she has received many awards and honors: Realtor of the Year, Chamber of Commerce ambassador, American Heart Association chair, Foothills YMCA board member and much more.

Her legacy with Clemson didn't end with being the first female graduate. Ginny had many firsts... She was also the first Alumni National Council female president. She was Tiger Brotherhood Mother of the Year and later inducted into full membership, the first person to be honored with both designations. She’s held numerous leadership roles (Foundation, IPTAY, etc.). She was also recently a recipient of the Alumni Association’s Distinguished Service Award.

During last year's Tigerama, she was celebrated along with other notable, famous grads of Clemson.

I admire Ginny for continuing to be involved as a Clemson alum and giving back to the Clemson family and community. She will always be remembered as one of the Clemson women who paved the way for the rest of us. I hope I can be half the woman she is.

Source: Clemson World Alumni Profiles, Ginny Skelton


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